JERUSALEM — The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, vowed revenge against Israel on Monday morning, a day after a blackout at an Iranian nuclear enrichment site was attributed to an Israeli attack.
Mr. Zarif’s comments highlight the risk of escalation in a yearslong shadow war between Iran and Israel. They also threaten to overshadow efforts in Vienna to encourage Iran to reimpose limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of American sanctions.
In a statement broadcast by Iranian state television, Mr. Zarif was quoted as saying: “The Zionists want to take revenge because of our progress in the way to lift sanctions.”
He added, “But we will take our revenge from the Zionists,” according to the broadcast.
Mr. Zarif’s reported comments followed a power failure on Sunday at the Natanz uranium enrichment site that Iranian officials attributed to Israeli sabotage. The Israeli government formally declined to comment on its involvement, but American and Israeli officials confirmed separately to The New York Times that Israel had played a role. Several Israeli news outlets, citing intelligence sources, attributed the attack to the Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.
efforts by the Biden administration to encourage Iran to return to something close to a 2015 agreement negotiated by the Obama administration, in which Tehran promised to limit its enrichment program.
collapsed in 2018, when President Donald J. Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran, and Iran reneged on commitments to curb its nuclear plans.
Israel opposes returning to the same deal, arguing that it did not impose strong enough or long enough restrictions on Iranian nuclear activity. Analysts were divided about whether Israel’s aggression was intended to scupper the negotiations altogether — or to simply weaken Iran’s hand at the table.
The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said that the blackout did not augur well for the negotiations in Vienna. “What we are hearing currently out of Tehran is not a positive contribution, particularly the development in Natanz,” Mr. Maas said on Monday.
For years, Israel and Iran have been engaged in a low-level shadow conflict.
Both have been accused of cyberattacks on the other’s territory. Iran finances and arms militias hostile to Israel across the Middle East, and has been accused of attempted assassinations of Israeli diplomats across the world. Israel is believed to be responsible for the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, most recently in November, when a leading architect of the Iranian nuclear program was killed in an ambush.
Those attacks have escalated at sea in the past two years, as Israel began to attack ships carrying Iranian fuel, and Iran seemed to respond by targeting at least two Israeli-owned cargo ships.
Both sides managed to contain the conflict, partly by refraining from speaking too publicly about the attacks.